The San Diego Padres have a deep, talented farm system that should allow the team to compete with the National League powerhouses in the near future. Featured Blogger Daniel Schoenfeld thinks they may even compete this year. However, many of the team’s top prospects (Austin Hedges, Casey Kelly, Rymer Liriano) missed significant time due to injuries in 2013. This will undoubtedly impede their development and hinder the effectiveness of the Padres’ robust farm system. Regardless, many of the players on this list still have a high ceiling and should contribute to the Major League club if they can stay healthy.
1. Austin Hedges, C 6’1” 190 lbs.
Hedges was hampered by injuries in 2013 and his offensive stats suffered. He split time between the California League and Texas League and had 30 total extra base hits. His BA (.260) and OBP (.333) were disappointing and need to improve this year if scouts are to continue to believe in his bat. The potential is there and analysts think he has the tools to be a good hitter, but his production has yet to match expectations. Hedges might be the best defensive catcher in the minors, which should allow him to have a lengthy career in the majors even if his bat doesn’t improve. If Hedges puts it all together, he will be an All-Star.
2. Matt Wisler, RHP 6’3” 195 lbs.
Wisler spent most of 2013 playing for Double-A San Antonio after a brief stint in the California League. Wisler’s combined stats were impressive last season. His 2.78 ERA and 1.03 WHIP were outstanding. He has great control, his fastball sits in the low-90s, and his slider is excellent. Wisler’s a hard worker with a good frame that should allow him to remain a starter in the majors. His 8.7 K/9 was solid, but not ideal. Wisler has a high ceiling and profiles as a good mid-rotation starter.
3. Max Fried, LHP 6’4” 185 lbs.
Fried was the 7th overall pick in the 2012 draft and, while he has the tools to be dominant, has yet to live up to expectations. Scouts believe that Fried will be a good No. 2 or 3 starter if he develops. His fastball works in the low- to mid-90s and he has a plus curveball. Fried’s strikeout rate (7.6) and WHIP (1.37) were average at best in 2013. His production needs to match his tools if Fried is to continue to be regarded as a top prospect.
4. Casey Kelly, RHP 6’3” 210 lbs.
Kelly is a bit of a wild card because he hasn’t played since 2012. Kelly is a good athlete who was consistently been regarded as a top prospect before undergoing Tommy John surgery last year. When healthy, his fastball sits in the low-90s and he flashes a plus curveball. Kelly has a smooth, repeatable delivery, but his command needs some work. In 2012, Kelly threw well in the minors and struggled when promoted to the majors. He needs to re-establish himself this season to become part of the Padres’ rotation.
5. Hunter Renfroe, OF 6’1” 200 lbs.
Renfroe was the Padres’ 1st round pick in 2013. He has a high ceiling, but needs to perform better this season to justify his draft position. Renfroe split time between the Northwest League and Midwest League last year, playing 43 total games. His combined stats were less than impressive as he hit .271 with a .308 OBP and 20 extra base hits. His numbers were especially problematic given his age (21) and reputation as a power hitter. Renfroe has the tools to be a good corner outfielder in the majors.
6. Jace Peterson, SS 6’ 205 lbs.
Peterson hit well in the California League last year. His .303 BA and .382 OBP were impressive and demonstrate improvement from 2012. He also stole 42 bases last year. Peterson is an intelligent player who does everything well despite lacking ideal tools. He should develop into a decent starter or good utility infielder.
7. Keyvius Sampson, RHP 6’ 185 lbs.
Sampson had a polarizing 2013 as he was excellent in Double-A and terrible after being promoted to Triple-A. In Double-A, Sampson posted a 2.26 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, and 9.6 K/9. Those stats are tremendous and show how much potential Sampson has. Unfortunately, his performance plummeted in all 3 categories after being promoted, diluting his combined stats and making them appear fairly pedestrian. Sampson clearly has the tools, but he has to improve his control to thrive in the majors. He is probably better suited for the bullpen in the long run.
8. Rymer Liriano, OF 6’ 225 lbs.
Liriano did not play in 2013 because of an elbow injury. He is excellent defensively and has a good frame. Despite his thick body, Liriano had 32 SB in 2012. He’s a good hitter, but doesn’t generate a lot of power, which limits his potential. Like Kelly, Liriano needs to bounce back this year to prove that he can contribute at the Major League level.
9. Zach Eflin, RHP 6’4” 200 lbs.
Eflin pitched well during his first full season in the Midwest League in 2013. His 2.73 ERA and 1.19 WHIP were impressive, but his 6.5 K/9 was less than desirable. He simply has to miss more bats to succeed at more advanced minor league levels. Additionally, he needs to develop a solid second pitch. Eflin has a big frame, which should help him remain durable in the long run.
10. Reymond Fuentes, OF 6’ 160 lbs.
Fuentes spent time in Double-A, Triple-A, and MLB in 2013. He put up great combined numbers in the minors last year, batting .330 with a .413 OBP. Moreover, Fuentes stole 35 bases and played superb defense. Fuentes struggled in 2012 and scouts are divided on his potential. Nevertheless, he played well last year and, at the very least, has a future in the majors as a fourth outfielder.
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